(Voorhees, NJ, December 20) – For the second time in a week, Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren and his counterpart in New York, Garth Snow, made a trade. Philadelphia acquired forward Mike York in exchange for center Randy Robitaille and a fifth round draft choice in 2008.
York has played for the Islanders, Edmonton Oilers and New York Rangers, but also played for the 2002 United States Olympic Team where he got to know goaltender Robert Esche and right wing Mike Knuble. Both players were asked about York following the Flyers' practice on Wednesday morning at the Virtua Health Flyers Skate Zone.
"I think it's a great addition to the team," said Esche. "He's a good team guy, and always puts the team in front of him in all the Team USA stuff that we've done. I'm looking forward to seeing him tonight [in Montreal]."
Knuble remembers York as a rookie with the Rangers as well.
"He's a really skilled player, and I remember him coming in with the Rangers. He just came in right out of camp and really was not on the radar at all. He came in and I think was the number two center the whole season," remembered Knuble. "He's a great offensive player and can do a lot of different things. He can kill penalties, man the point on the power play, and is a quick, good skating player and playmaking right shot.
"He still has a lot of hockey in front of him."
As 28 years of age, York is three years younger than Robitaille. The Flyers' brass thinks that he brings a little more to the table than did Robitaille, who was signed to a one-year contract as a free agent by the club on July 4, 2006.
"We just feel Mike's competitiveness and versatility brings us a little more than Randy does right now," said Holmgren. "I think Mike can play high up in the lineup and he's also okay on a third or fourth line role if that's what the situation calls for. Randy was a good player for us, but not a guy that really fit in a third or fourth line energy role. I think because of Mike's competitiveness, he's a guy that can do that if that's the case.
"He's had good numbers wherever he's been in his career and we think he's a good addition to our hockey club."
John Stevens is looking forward to inserting York into the lineup as well.
"I think he's a pretty versatile guy. He's got the ability to make plays, so I think he can play on our top two lines and really compliment some skilled players," said Stevens. "He's a competitive guy, so my guess is that over time, he can play in a lot of key situations.
"Obviously, we feel getting Mike York here makes us better. He's got the ability to be a good player in this league for a number of years."
York is in the final year of his contract as well, and the Flyers will evaluate him throughout the rest of the season, said Holmgren.
"This gives us a chance to look and see if he can fit down the road. I think because of his offensive abilities and his competitiveness, those are areas we really like in a player. I think there's a chance that he might be a fit long term here, we'll just have to see how it goes."
Forsberg to Miss Game Thursday in Montreal
Peter Forsberg will miss his second consecutive game on Thursday due to a concussion suffered in Washington last Saturday.
"I'm going to stay [home] and then skate around a little bit [Thursday] and see how it feels," said Forsberg. "Hopefully, I can practice Friday. That's the goal."
Forsberg has felt improvement over the past couple of days, since the hit by the Capitals' Alex Ovechkin.
"It's definitely better. It was tough the first couple of days but much better now."
The Flyers' captain is looking forward to getting back into the lineup with his new right skate boot. Although he only played in less than a period with the boot, he could feel the difference.
"I don't want to say too much, but it felt better. I'm excited to get back to playing."
FLYERS NOTES Robert Esche is still not ready to backup Antero Niittymaki yet as he continues to recover from his surgery on November 29, according to Holmgren. Esche will most likely not be back until after Christmas. â€¦ Niittymaki was given the day off from practice.